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A Fragment - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
A Fragment

Harry disliked London.  Draco disliked London.  These were articles of faith.



And yet….  Harry disliked Muggle London because he had come to cherish the countryside and the life of village, hamlet, tiny, jewel-like cathedral city, and slow-moving market town.   His idea of ‘a day out’ had come to be that of spending a day at the Wizarding Agricultural Society’s HQ at Bubbenhall Abbey.  Harry disliked and distrusted ‘London’ in its Wizarding guise as well, if by ‘London’ one meant the ministerial and political Wizarding London, Moot and Ministry, guile and grab.  And even now, of course, Grimmauld Place, however cleansed and lightened, however exorcised and now housing the comic spirit incarnate in Remus-and-Tonks, was a place of bittersweet memory.


Draco disliked and feared Muggle London because it was dirty, and noisy, and everything – and everyone – moved bewilderingly quickly, and he couldn’t quite see and grasp what was happening around him.  Even now, Draco was the least bit afraid of Muggles, knowing and resenting, shamefully, that this was because he even now did not fully understand them, to his own, defensively prickly, embarrassment.  He disliked and feared Wizarding London as well, insofar as Wizarding London was Lucius’s Wizarding London, a place of bullying and bribes, a metonym for Ministry offices, Knockturn Alley shops, and clandestine mischief.


Yet the Duke of Kent’s Steps running down to Merlin Walk, all around the green and ever-flowering glories, charmed and charming, of Mungo’s Park, the grave, chaste, Palladian frontages of Mercia Square and the Classical proportions, trim as a Wren’s nest, of St Cuthbert’s, Mercia Square, the elegant arch of Crutchedfriars Bridge and the mix of Queen Anne and Georgian graces in the houses of Fore Square, satisfied Harry’s eye and uplifted his spirit whenever he saw them.  They were tonic, grounding the magical weirdness and charm of Diagon Alley and Hedge Row, Purse Lane and Mist Steps, Side Way and Dis Place.  And Harry, who had an unending fascination with How Things Work, found an intellectual challenge and interest in the inner life and inward ways of Wizarding London and the Wizarding World, from the merchant banking carried on by the Goldsteins and Zabinis to the industry of Dye Urn Alley to the crowded shipping of the Isle of Crups and the Fleet Basin, down the docklands, where the very names of the narrow and winding ways spoke of the magic and mystery, the romance, of far commerce and voyaging: Dutch Street, Indus Street, Pad Dock, Burr Dock.


And Draco, too, had come to find a fascination in the parts of Wizarding London that he, as a child, and the child of man whose very memory was now damned, had never seen, had never known to exist.  The galleries and the theatres and the concert halls, and the jolly, vulgar music halls as well, all the vibrant culture, high and low alike, of Friary Garden, Dreary Lane, and the West Bar.  The ever-flowering glories, charmed and charming, of Chiswick – the Royal Herbologic Garden – and its satellite in the country, Balcombe Court.  All the effervescent life of peacetime London, after the vanquishing of the long Dark.


And, as well, he and Harry alike cherished the living memorials, now called once more into life and action, of their ancestral world, as it had been before the panic and the Dark and, in truth, all the sad centuries of the long, dire, deadly secrecy regime.  Restoration London.  The old institutions had, like princesses in an enchanted sleep, been kissed by peace and righteousness, wakened and brought back to life by that kiss.  Upping Street was no longer under Fidelius, though properly secure, and its fabled Number Twelve was once more the home and office of successive Ministers.  The rule of law was re-established, in justice and in truth, truth mighty above all things and prevailing, and, once past Plea Inn Bar, all along Ess Street and into Inn-Chancery, the lawyers hummed and bustled like a hive of happy, golden bees.  The RWCJ stood proud and tall again over its fabled gardens, the Stern Street Magistrates Court briskly handled the jollifications and sleeping-it-offs of Boat Race and Fair, and the Old Donjon, built on the relics of earlier minatory structures at Oldgate, by its very presence and the awful majesty of its high halls and sounding courtrooms, where even in Summer there was coolth, deterred the most solemn crimes, the crimes it was built to try and to assess.  From Wynd Row, strait ways led to the halls of exercised power, in this Restoration world.  The fascinating legalities that Draco had come to cherish, the liberty that Harry treasured, the power and the glory, the arms that secured peace, the knowledge that directed them: all were once again deployed honestly and fairly, for the common weal, by the common consent, the people’s will.  Liberty under law, force bridled by freedom’s foundation and the ancient laws, in a world made new.  The institutional memory of the Wizarding world was restored, and the Moot again sat in due pomp and presence, in the Palace of Thornminster, its Dial Tower looming over all and Long George sounding the hours, its answering Boudicca Tower anchoring the other end of the palace, housing the Moot Records Office and all the history and precedent of Wizardry: history that must be learnt from, lest it be repeated.  The great ministers of state had returned to their ancient seats, King John’s Gate for the Gnome Office, Kinghorn House for the Scottish Office; Hit Wizards’s and Hit Wizards’s Parade; Auroralty House.  Daysbridge Barracks and the Ordnance Warren brimmed with quiet confidence, alert, ever ready, power defensive and defending, leashed by law, the watch-Crups of the Constitution.  Harry’s own hardest-fought ministerial achievement, an honest and accepted excise and scheme of taxation, was represented by Wiltshire House, which also housed the General Records Office alongside the Department of Outlandish Revenue.  Its eyes to the heavens, the Nephomantic Office watched cloud and weather and sky for the benefit of all, shipper and farmer and all who depended upon these.  Severn Street House and Furness House proclaimed, respectively, the sleepless guard of the Unspeakables and the restoration of honest and open government and of relations with the wider world, and foreign Wizard-dom once more sent its envoys, accredited to the Court of St Aldhelm’s.  The American ambassador was openhandedly magnificent at the embassy on Square Nore Grove and kept a splendid table at his country seat of Walker House, and the Home Counties – once the scene of Harry’s infant misery and later scorched and seared by war in the Great Rebellion – now anew concealed the graces and favours of Hawtreys and Thorneygrove and Chivenoaks.


To Draco, these were reassuring symbols of no mean power, tangible proof of the Light’s victory, in the same way that the restoration of Lochiel House, looking down upon a Hogsmeade that was now the administrative capital of Wizarding Scotland, was proof and assurance that good had triumphed and peace been won.  What was more, these particular symbols spoke to his interests and attracted his cast of mind.


Yet for Harry, it was the particular and the parochial, the quaint and the quotidian, the mercantile and mundane, that was the best and truest sign and symbol of their victory and of the Restoration: a victory not of half-measures, a victory that was more than a suppression of the Great Rebellion, a victory that had gone on to uproot the strangling vines of the secrecy regime and of hole-and-corner government, bribery, intimidation, and mere influence.  Once, amongst their Muggle neighbours at a dinner table or over bridge, Draco had explained that, against all instinct, he had become a Thatcherite rather than a Wet grandee, and Harry had become a Right-libertarian LibDem rather than a man of the Left, because their early years had taught them a distrust of ministerial bungling, governmental interference, and bureaucratic petty tyranny.  However it had come about, Harry had embraced Burke’s dictum, that, To love the little platoon we belong to in society, is the first principle (the germ as it were) of publick affections.  And therefore, when Harry sought to find in Wizarding London the outward and visible sign of their triumph, he sought and found it in the reopened Fortescue’s and the refounded Ollivander’s, in Madam Malkin’s shop front and the shelves of Flourish and Blott.  He scented it in the flower stalls and fruit stalls and heard it in the costermongers’s cries all along Hedge Row.  He breathed it in with the sharp scent of printer’s ink and law calf, the crispness of vellum and parchment, on Polygon Alley.  He found it all along Boyle Row, at Twillfit and at Peeves & Fawkes, at Peakes & Ravenclaw and Scrimgeour Filch Avebury and Figg & Wimple.  He found it in the oysters and the mixed grill at Somerton’s, in the chops at Timson’s in the Mere, in the leather and varnish of Geo Aracobb & Sons, Bootmakers, and in the reverent bustling-about and aromatic lather of a trim and a shave at Jno F Deemster’s palatial tonsorial establishment.  And most of all, in chains of office and casual pomp, he saw these monuments of victory embodied in the pitched roof of Livery Hall and the banquets of Burgage House, in the ealdormen pacing gravely along the halls of Corporation Hall, and in the restoration of the proud and ancient guilds, from The Master and Wardens and Brethren of the Guild or Fraternity of the Blessed Mary the Virgin and of St Catherine of the Mistery of Potters and Crockers and of Basketmakers of the Wizarding Realm of the Three Kingdoms, to the Worshipful and Ancient Company of the Art-magical and Mystery of Navigators and Pilots of the Blessed Fraternity of St Christopher.  Even in the pop concerts of Brentside Stadium: the Weird Sisters, the Rollright Stones (‘You can’t always scry what you’re wanting … But sometimes, you scry what you need’): he found the daily, common evidence of victory and peace.  Of liberty.


This was what peace looked like, and victory.  This was their achievement, the work and reward of all the Victors together.  If you sought their monument, look about you.

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4 comments or Leave a comment
backinblack From: backinblack Date: June 4th, 2006 01:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
Your writing is always so vivid and perfect.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: June 4th, 2006 02:08 pm (UTC) (Link)

Er. Thank you.

I fear, though, I am far from perfect in any way.

Yet I thank you. most sincerely.
tiferet From: tiferet Date: June 4th, 2006 09:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
The sense of place and time in this piece is vivid and marvellous.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: June 4th, 2006 09:18 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you.

I was a bit worried it was too Brit to be readily intelligible. Or that the Rollright Stones at the Wizarding version of Wembley Stadium was over the top.
4 comments or Leave a comment